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Columbus, the Horny Merchant

The Machiavellian mind and the merchant mind are at one in their simple faith in the power of segmental division to rule all–in the dichotomy of power and morals and of money and morals.

Marshall McLuhan, 1962

Westerners, on their way to market, had been looking for a shortcut to the Silk Road, when by happenstance, they ran into a big nipple: The Americas. Knowingly or unknowingly, we live daily with Columbus’ conflict of what to do if confronted by a big nipple unexpectedly.

Columbus couldn’t wait to write the King and tell him about the New World that he had found; it wasn’t flat and it wasn’t a sphere. In his eyes, it was an erect juicy nipple pointed skyward toward God. For the untethered and bank-rolled, the Americas appeared as a Godly geographical go-ahead to suck in and on the garden at everybody else’s expense. After all, the God of the West had arranged all things in the time-space continuum and he liked big nipples pointed at him, so could Columbus.

The psychological unearthing of the New World in the form of a big juicy nipple was a glorious Gestalt that gave cohesion to unreconciled issues that had been painstakingly pared away from one another over centuries of Western religious and intellectual thought. For the explorer class, the Americas could be the horn of plenty, the sex horn, and the land were they could blow their own horns instead of having it blown for them by popes or kings, or pope-kings, or king-popes. But there were two problems that threatened the Nipples-Up from God: Puritans and Pagans.

So, over time in America, Columbus’ Gestalt has been successfully repurposed for the masses through the art of subliminal appeal and by the status quo acceptance that superior firepower is the same as diplomacy. Modern American culture is the push-pull combination of Columbus’ New World discovery, “mmm, juicy, sweet,” and the outsiders that squelched it, the Puritans. For the Puritans, who benefited none the less from Columbus’ savage and highly individuated conquest, their proclivities continue to be comprehensively about the power of sublimation: “There will be no ‘mmm, juicy, sweet’ –unless there is profit involved.”

So, how do Pagans threaten such developments? Because from time to time, their unwavering and patient proclamations hit air out beyond the reservations: “duh, ‘juicy, sweet’, that’s what we’ve been trying to tell you, now, please don’t kill us or convert us–again.”

Dr. Chomsky is right, in the beginning as in the present, the West arrives as a warrior-merchant. Presently, the warrior-merchants of the New Old World are mostly hardworking voyeurs who are not required to fight, one of the many benefits of purchasing power. And the nipples? Pixels.

LARAY POLK is an artist and activist who lives in Dallas, Texas. She can be contacted at laraypolk@earthlink.net